google star ratings

Was it too soon for Google+ Local to remove Google star ratings?

One of the noticeable changes seen in adopting a more Google+ platform for Google’s Local product  is the removal of the standard Google star ratings, replaced by Zagat scores. This was meant to create more differentiation in ratings between places. Instead of an obscure 3.5 gold star ratings, places that fall in that range can be given a score of 21-25 out of 30.

Here’s the before & after (courtesy: seroundtable & agency3):

Barry Schwartz of Search Engine Roundtable reported merchants that have seen decreased click through rates from Google search results due to this change. One merchant said in Google Business Help that traffic to his site has dropped from 30-60 visits to 0-5 visits per day.

Google+ Local hasn’t fully rolled out in Canada yet. When I type in Mcdonald’s in Google, I see neither star ratings or Zagat scores.

Mcdonald's Google + Local

It will be interesting to see how this may impact our Canadian merchants when this feature rolled out. Were these just isolated instances? Is Google better off in keeping their signature star ratings?